Switzerland dethrones S'pore as No. 1 country for expats: Survey

Expatriates like Switzerland for its high pay and quality of life. Many also see the nation of iconic ski resorts as a great place to raise children. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Expatriates like Switzerland for its high pay and quality of life. Many also see the nation of iconic ski resorts as a great place to raise children. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GENEVA • Switzerland has knocked Singapore off its perch as the world's top-ranked destination for expatriates.

The nation - home to some of the biggest private banks, commodity traders and pharmaceutical companies - was judged the best place to live and work, according to a study published yesterday by HSBC Holdings.

Switzerland jumped from No. 8 last year, winning top marks for its earning potential and stability.

Singapore placed second after topping the ranking for the past four years.

The average Swiss annual salary of US$111,587 (S$151,340) is 47 per cent higher than the US$75,966 mean pay package across the 33 nations surveyed by HSBC in the 12th edition of its annual expat country ranking.

Seven out of 10 expats said they had more disposable income after moving to Switzerland.

While the nation of iconic ski resorts, from Zermatt to Verbier to St Moritz, scored well for quality of life, Switzerland is not the place for a sense of fulfilment or making friends - ranking 31st and 24th respectively in those areas.

On the other hand, it is perceived as a great place to raise children and make a long-term home.

  • TOP 10

  • 1. Switzerland (8)

    2. Singapore (1)

    3. Canada (4)

    4. Spain (13)

    5. New Zealand (2)

    6. Australia (6)

    7. Turkey (22)

    8. Germany (3)

    9. UAE (9)

    10. Vietnam (18)

    • ( ) last year's rank

"The research confirms what we hear from clients, many of whom move to Switzerland for its high quality of life, good business prospects, and economic and political stability," said Mr Jean-Francois Bunlon, market head for HSBC Private Banking in Switzerland.

Other big gainers included Turkey, which surged from 22nd to seventh place for its open and welcoming communities, and for the ease that expats find in settling in.

Spain jumped nine places to fourth, ranking first in two sub-categories: quality of life and physical and mental well-being.

The United Kingdom fell seven places to 27th, as uncertainty over Brexit put it in the bottom three for economic and political stability.

Still, for UK-bound expats in need of consolation, the nation topped the sub-category for fulfilment and came fourth for career progression.

Sweden was another big loser, dropping to the 20th spot from seventh last year.

The Scandinavian country's high marks for economic stability and work-life balance were not enough to counter the difficulty that expats found in making friends and reaching their potential there.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline 'Switzerland dethrones S'pore as No. 1 country for expats: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe